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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Nikola Jokic | Wednesday, Oct. 20

Terry McBride

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NBA DFS action truly gets going in style on Wednesday night with a robust 11-game slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. The schedule is somewhat light on heavily totaled games, but a handful of reasonably close point spreads should provide competitive contests that create DFS scoring opportunities in all corners. Parsing through the possibilities becomes challenging at this number of potential plays unless one uses Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool when building lineups. Putting that together with the site’s projections and a lineup optimizer is a major advantage over anyone hand-building and attempting to play the slate by ear. Follow the optimal construction paths by playing the best options from the optimal lineup rate and boom score probability columns, and keep an eye on leverage and public ownership.

This space will always focus on the factors mentioned above, but at times we will call out plays that are over-owned, taking the opportunity to discuss the potential pivots. With 11 games on the slate, this article will be broad in scope, looking at both stars and value plays. But as always, the goal is to find under-appreciated players for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel DFS NBA projections and simulations.

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These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score, and boom probability. The optimal lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears in Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings NBA and FanDuel NBA slates. The leverage score is the difference between the optimal lineup rate and projected ownership, while the boom probability indicates a player’s likelihood of hitting a ceiling score. It is important to remember that not all of these NBA DFS picks are highlights, and bad chalk and shaky investments will be discussed in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.

Bradley Beal — Washington Wizards

DraftKings — $9,500 — SG | FanDuel — $9,400 — PG/SG

The last star standing in Washington, Beal looks to be an excellent option on tonight’s slate. He shared the floor with usage sponge Russell Westbrook last season, but that did nothing to stop Beal from drawing 33.1% usage of his own over the course of the season. He contributed just a 14.2% rebounding share and a 22.5% assist rate, his primary value is in scoring the basketball, which he can do frequently. Beal played 35.8 minutes a night and posted 31.3 points per game with a 59.3% true shooting percentage, though he shot a career-low 34.9% from beyond the 3-point arc. That mark is part of a three-year decline in the statistic. Beal’s attempts per game jumped from an average below five to an average of 7.1 over the past five seasons, in 2016-17 he shot 40.4%, followed by a 37.5% season and three years below 36% that culminated in last year’s career low. With the player’s volume in this offense, this is not overly concerning, but it is worth watching as the season progresses. For tonight’s slate, Beal looks like a rock-solid option across the industry.

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On DraftKings he comes in with a seemingly cheap $9,500 salary. He has a 15.5% optimal lineup rate in Awesemo’s simulations, ranking him 12th overall on the slate and third among players eligible at shooting guard on the site. Beal is the slate’s leading leverage play at any position, coming in with a 6.6 mark in the category. The public is projected for less than 10% ownership on one of the league’s top scorers who is also carrying a 30.9% boom score probability against a 46.5 DraftKings points projection. With the significant leverage and the frequency with which we find the player in optimal lineups at the position, it makes sense to get well over the field’s ownership on Beal for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

On the blue site, Beal comes in with a 22.1% boom score probability that ranks just 30th on a relatively flat board, but he is one of the slate-leading options by optimal lineup rate. At a 19.9% frequency of appearance, Beal ranks sixth among all FanDuel options, fifth among guard-eligible players. With the addition of point guard eligibility on the site, this is an even more dynamic play, but the leverage is consistent from site to site. Beal is projected for just 13.3% public popularity, creating a clear opportunity to exceed the public on an excellent player with obvious upside. In a game with just a 2.5 point spread in Vegas, Beal will have to do a lot to keep his team in the running. New wingman Spencer Dinwiddie seems unlikely to approach the level of usage that Westbrook required, which could potentially leave even more on the table for Beal.

Kevin Porter Jr. — Houston Rockets

DraftKings — $7,800 — PG | FanDuel — $6,100 — SF/PG

Porter is a radically different play from site to site for tonight’s NBA DFS slate. He slots in as a somewhat overpriced point guard on the DraftKings slate, but he is at a seemingly good value mark on the FanDuel salary list, where he comes with the bonus of small forward eligibility. Porter averaged 0.94 fantasy points per minute last season, posting 16.6 points and 6.3 assists in 32.1 minutes a night. He got to those marks on 24.7% usage across all situations, his 40.6% assist share is a strong mark, but he had a lowly 13.3% rebounding contribution. Porter managed a 53.8% true-shooting percentage but just a 31.1% mark from deep. He is primarily an option where he comes as a value play in a contest against the Timberwolves that is carrying the second-highest total of the night.

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On DraftKings, Porter is difficult to justify, given the $7,800 salary and single position eligibility. He is pulling in a 7% optimal lineup rate, and he has a strong 5.0 leverage score, so he is not entirely without merit. Only 2% of the field is projected to get to him, and he has a boom score probability of 17.5% that ranks him as just a middling play on the slate. Porter is playable, but he is not someone to go out of one’s way for on the DraftKings slate, there are better options at better prices up and down the board. However, exceeding the minuscule projected public popularity is not a difficult task, if so inclined it is easy to roster Porter beyond the field without doing damage to the potential upside of a full suite of 150 lineups.

It is on FanDuel where the Porter play stands out. The addition of small forward eligibility and the low $6,100 price tag makes him an appealing option who leads the way in our optimal lineup rate category. Porter lands in the optimal lineup in 26.1% of Awesemo’s simulations for tonight, leading the slate by more than 2.5 percentage points among players at all positions. He comes in with a 24.6% ownership share that makes him popular but falls short of pushing him into negative leverage territory. With a raw projection of 34 FanDuel points and a boom score probability of 33.7% that ranks eighth among all options on the blue site, Porter is an excellent play as a mid-range value. Exceeding the field’s projected ownership seems like a strong approach, despite the player’s popularity.

Nikola Jokic — Denver Nuggets

DraftKings — $10,400 — C | FanDuel — $11,400 — C

Jokic starts the season looking to defend his crown while leading his Nuggets in pursuit of an NBA title that is becoming less of a Denver pipe dream with the Nuggets carrying the ninth-best odds of taking the title this season. Jokic is surrounded by a quality cast that includes newly rich Michael Porter Jr. and forward Aaron Gordon, as well as a strong handful of role players. He averaged 1.58 fantasy points per minute on 29.3% usage last season, putting up a 34.6% rebounding rate and a 40.6% assist share that is outstanding for a center. Jokic is a high-priced option across the industry, but he is one of the top-ranked big men on both sites tonight.

On FanDuel he lands at a raw point projection of 52.5 with a 21.1% boom score probability that ranks 34th overall and 14th among eligible centers on the site. Despite those bumpy rankings, Jokic simply has a strong upside toward a raw point ceiling, which comes out somewhat in the wash given his 11% optimal lineup rate that ranks seventh at the center spot on the site. Jokic is projected for at least 7 more fantasy points than the next-highest raw projection in that group, and more importantly, he comes at a 4.4 leverage mark that ranks fifth among centers. Given the upside available and the lack of public ownership, it makes sense to exceed the field’s projected mark on the player on this slate.

On DraftKings, Jokic has a 19.5% optimal lineup rate that ranks fifth overall on the site, and second among center-eligible players. He is carrying a 55.2 DraftKings points projection and has a solid 18.1% boom score probability. Jokic will not carry as much positive leverage as he does across town, but he still lands on the correct side of the equation, coming in with a 1.4 leverage score. With the only other positively leveraged center plays being Precious Achiuwa — a strong value play on DraftKings and a non-entity on FanDuel given his disparate salaries from site to site — and Brandon Clarke, there is major upside in rostering a low-owned Jokic in DraftKings lineups tonight.


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Looking for more DFS NBA tips and the top NBA DFS picks for today? Check out our NBA fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own DFS basketball projections. We also have FanDuel NBA rankings, DraftKings NBA rankings and Yahoo! ownership rankings for today's slate. View our FanDuel ownership, our DraftKings ownership and our Yahoo! ownership projections. Our DFS NBA projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.

Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on Awesemo.com. A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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